A Texas high school assistant principal is disputing claims that he told a student to “turn off that nigger music,” insisting instead that he used the offensive racial slur in a different way than the students have alleged.
The Denton Record-Chronicle reports that a high school in Denton, Texas, is conducting an investigation into comments made by assistant principal Howard Palmer after audio of him using the n-word began circulating on social media. Palmer, who is white, can be heard using the N-word several times in the clip to a black parent who tries to explain why the word is unacceptable.
“I just want to know, did you say it,” said Prince Njoku, the father of Denton High School student LaTasia Woodard. Woodard reportedly called her father and accused Palmer of telling her friend to “turn off that nigger music.”
Oh, there’s one thing you should know: Palmer allegedly used the n-word to a student who was listening to music through his earphones.
“I’ll tell you the exact words,” the keen-hearing Palmer calmly responded, before unironically using the n-word in his office. “I said ‘turn that music down. I don’t want to hear the word nigger in my office.’”
See how different that is?
“That word shouldn’t even be coming out of your mouth, Mr. Palmer,” Njoku explains. “There’s no explanation...You want me to be fine with you using that expletive to a student...What are we doing here?”
When Njoku asks Palmer if he said “nigger music,” Palmer denies the allegation, to which Woodard insists he did. Woodard goes on to say how her friend heard the assistant principal use the slur.
“I thought he was joking,” Woodard recounts. “That’s when I came down here because I was outraged that a word like that would come out of your mouth—a person in a position of power who’s not only supposed to be directing people but also you’re in charge of giving punishment and directing the school. And so, for you to be in charge of all that and feel some kind of way towards rap music?”
After Palmer repeatedly denies the allegation and shrugs it off, Njoku asks to speak to his boss. Palmer radios a co-worker, explaining that he’s not “going to write this off as cultural differences,” eventually adding that he “grew up on that word.”
School district spokeswoman Julie Zwahr said Palmer has been on administrative leave while the district’s human resources department investigates the situation. Zwahr and the school superintendent both claim they haven’t viewed the video on social media, the Record-Chronicle reports.
“All we know is that if something like that is out there, that’s not what we’re about, so I don’t know that it’s important that we watch the video,” Zwahr said.
Aside from serving as the school’s assistant principal, Palmer is a brigadier general and was named commander of the Army component of the Texas State Guard in 2015.